Shakira Biography (1977-)

Shakira, . Born Isabel Mebarak Ripoll on February 2, 1977, in Barranquilla, Colombia. With a Lebanese father and Colombian mother, honors her Latino and Arabic heritage in her music. She wrote her first song at the age of 8 and signed her first record deal at 13.

After her first two albums flopped, Shakira took the reins of her third album, becoming involved in every aspect of its production. Released in 1996, Pies Descalzos, meaning “bare feet,” sold more than three million copies. The album featured her trademark sound, a blending of Latin, rock, and Arabic musical styles. It sold more than three million copies and the follow-up record, Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (1998), which translates as “Where are the thieves?,” reached the top of Billboard’s Latin charts. Based on the success of her albums, Shakira became a music superstar in the Spanish-language markets, known for her strong vocals and incredible hip-shaking belly dance moves.

While hugely popular in much of the rest of the world, Shakira had not yet achieved a major record on the U.S. pop charts. She moved to Miami with her family to further her goal and taught herself to write songs in English. She enlisted Emilio Estefan, of Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine fame, to act as her manager and producer. Her first English-language album, Laundry Service (2001), provided Shakira with the success in the United States that she longed for — the album was number three on the charts, selling more than 200,000 copies in the first week. The songs “Whenever, Wherever” and “Underneath Your Clothes” were both big hits.

Shakira returned to the top 10 of the albums chart in 2005 twice. She first released the Spanish-language Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 in June, which was followed in November by English-language Oral Fixation, Vol. 2. She received the Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album for Fijación Oral, Vol. 1, her second time winning such an honor. Previously, she had won a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album for 2000’s Shakira: MTV Unplugged.

Touring extensively, Shakira released two concert albums: 2007’s Live and 2008’s Oral Fixation Tour. She has also found time to record. In July 2009, Shakira released the new single, “She Wolf,” from her upcoming new studio album.

Besides her busy career, Shakira created the Pies Descalzos Foundation to help children in her native Colombia in 1997.

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